Thursday, November 20, 2014

last minute ideas for your Thanksgiving table…


Hello friends.

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is around the corner. I’ve been busy working on lots of projects around here, going at a steady pace and enjoying that feeling of nesting. And I can’t wait to share some of my progress on my office re-do and my kitchen.

But today I needed a dose of escapism and what better topic is there… than to chat about your Thanksgiving table. I so enjoy setting a pretty table and I like to help you do it too.

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year?



We’re headed to my parents home for the holiday and Mom has already mentioned she’s using dark burgundy and gold on her table.  I think jewel colored napkins and metallic shades are perfect partners and it’s so easy to grab a spray can of gold or silver or bronze and add those shiny details.

I actually have these dark purple napkins which is why I was drawn to this tablescape.

Look how easy this centerpiece is…you could do this. Magnolia leaves and persimmons down the center of the table with fresh flowers that pick up the colors in your napkins.

And of course, candles.


Maybe because I’ve been so busy this season but lately I’m in the mood for simplicity and this table fits the bill. Piling creamy colored pumpkins and gourds in the middle of your table and using greens to fill in the gaps is easy to do and looks so pretty with votive candles.



If you’re not lucky enough to have a collection of fancy fake pumpkins (I don’t) you can still achieve this look.

Glam up your pumpkins with spray paint and glitter and lay them on straw colored raffia for a textured look. Press leaves from your yard in books overnight, and use these for your placecards. Simply use a gold pen to write the name of each guest on the leaf.

Simple and pretty.


Or… spray pinecones gold and use these as your place cards.

Do you want to convey a personal message on your Thanksgiving table but lack these cool black plates?  This is what you do. Turn over a salad plate and trace a circle on black construction paper and then cut out the circles. Write out your message with a gold pen and place these on each dinner plate.

Voila!  The same look for pennies.


Here’s a table set with gold everywhere for a dramatic effect.


I haven’t done this one yet, but here’s another idea for easy placecards. Make a slit in the stem of a miniature pumpkin and slip your guest’s name inside.


This is a wire shaped into a circle with a piece of fresh rosemary tied to it, you can hide the wire with the green leaves and a ribbon on top.

I think this is lovely don’t you?

However.. if you’re in a time crunch or you’ve got a small army invited for dinner, keeping your table decor simple doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice beauty.


You can never go wrong with fresh flowers and candles and a few pieces from the farmer’s market…






And before I go I have to share a favorite.

This table setting is not simple but I’m crushing on the details of this elegant look…the woven placemats against the black tablecloth, the white napkins with this chic dinnerware…and the use of a white pen on black paper for simple placecards…it’s perfect.

It’s such a different look for Thanksgiving, maybe that’s why I’m loving it. 

Do you have a favorite here?



I sure hope I’ve given you some ideas you can use

…but mostly I hope my blog has been a happy place for you today.

And that later you find time in your busy schedule to stop yourself and simply dwell on the good moments that have happened in your day.





Wishing you a peaceful November day,






Tuesday, November 11, 2014





We just got back from a whirlwind visit home

and I’m beginning the week feeling wonderfully replenished.

October was jam-packed with activity and I ended the month feeling tired and looking around the house with a sense of overwhelm, aware of a growing momentum to hurry up and get things done before the holidays approach. I don’t like this rushed feeling. Or the idea that I’m already behind schedule if I haven’t done any Thanksgiving posts yet-- or god knows-- Christmas topics which are already popping up everywhere in blogland.

Sigh. This is the part of blogging that I have to be wary of; it’s the need to stay ahead of the seasons for one’s readers and it’s the modus operandi of a successful blogger. And I totally get it; the idea that readers are looking for their holiday decorating ideas weeks-- and even months-- ahead of time is something I can relate to.


In fact, I’m one of those readers. I lovveeeee searching Blogland and Pinterest for creative ideas but as a blogger on the other side, it’s always a dilemma for me because I’m aware that when I’m creating Christmas tablescapes in October,

I’m not able to fully relish the present season.

Do you know what I mean?

Recently I was listening to a talk by Tara Brach and she mentioned that in today’s techie world we spend an average of eight hours a day in front of a screen. The point she was making was how hard it is to be awakened to the present moment and to feel what’s here in front of us

when so much of our time is spent in a virtual reality.

Think about that. How many hours are you in front of a screen?

It’s a powerful realization. And so I love this reminder.


Or better still, how about we give ourselves this gift?


So…you might think driving in the car over 850 miles for only a three day trip might seem hectic but it was exactly what I needed. I hadn’t been back home since we moved and it was time.

  Thursday evening was my dear friend Mary’s annual birthday party and as usual, the house was filled with women that I’ve known since my kids were in kindergarten and that’s such a special feeling.



I only wish I’d taken pictures of Tracey’s beautiful home to show you, but I was too engrossed in conversations about relationships and engagements and breakups… topics that seem to reflect the changing ages of our kids.

And like all good trips, there were moments that stand out in my mind.

Kirsten and I clinking our wine glasses with Mary and sharing the latest news before we headed to the party.. A conversation at the kitchen island with Tracey about our sons… Sitting on the brick hearth at my parent’s house and eating Chinese food with the family… Making a mad dash back to Pottery World to find my Mom’s lost eyeglasses only to learn  they were in her purse the whole time… And my funny Dad shaking his head behind my Mom’s back.

and sadly, there was a tragic one too…

On the way home when we pulled off the freeway for a sandwich and while I was waiting in our car, I heard a loud, sickening thud and the sound of twisting metal. When I got out of our car I could see men running toward what was a three car collusion at the off ramp. It was a scene that deeply affected me especially when I discovered the next morning that a man had died in that crash.

Afterwards I told Jim –who was inside at the time—that I can’t stop thinking how when I heard that crash, a man’s soul was leaving the earth. To me, it was a stunning reminder of how tenuous life really is.

In the meantime I’m home again, and even though nothing much has changed around here I’m feeling incredibly grateful.

For our safe trip home.

For my family.

For my Friends.

For the health of my parents.

For the fact that my kids are well and safe as I write these words.

That I have a house.

And a warm bed.

And food whenever I need it.

And our sweet Stella Bella.

For the computer that allows me to write these words

For any blog post I manage to publish here

for all my dear blogger friends

And for YOU, for taking precious time to get to the end of this post.


Oh, I could go on forever but you get my point.



It’s an interesting question, don’t you think?









Friday, October 31, 2014

Day 31: how to throw a dinner party for picky ghosts



Quick question: What do you do when you see four heads on sale at your local fabric store?

Answer: You think, “Ah-ha! Here’s my Halloween blog post!

Of course. A dinner party for ghosts. What else?

Believe it or not, I’ve always wanted to try making ghosts using liquid fabric starch, cheese cloth and wig heads.

And now that my dining room is that perfect shade of Haunted House Gray, how could I resist entertaining ghosts in there?


So in honor of Halloween 2014 and…

the FINAL post in my 31 Days of October Inspiration Series, I’ve invited a few of my more luminous gal pals over for a light (see-through actually) dinner.


In case you’re wondering, setting a table for ghost gals is rather important.

Think monochromatic…as in shades of white.


And whatever you do, make sure you have chains somewhere on the table.

It makes them right feel at home.


(You can’t tell, but she’s actually smiling)


Also, ghosts prefer to have their napkins levitating…


in case you didn’t know.




And details like white candles, white pumpkins


and eyeball candies are always appreciated too..





Thank you so much for stopping by on Day 31 of October. And what a full month it’s been;  I’ve really learned a lot on this month-long experiment with blogging,

And for those of you who kept me company along the way, I cannot thank you enough.

I’m wishing you all an utterly enchanting Halloween!

with a ghostly hug,






Wednesday, October 29, 2014

a Halloween (birthday) bouquet--how to


Today is my neighbor Maria’s birthday so I picked out this odd shaped pumpkin, some bright red dahlias, white tulips, berries and smokebush leaves from Trader Joe’s and I made this pretty bouquet for her.

Do you want to see how I did it?



I used a plastic water bottle and cut it to fit inside the pumpkin.



I used the opening of the bottle to draw an outline on the pumpkin and then I started cutting…and scooping out the insides.

DSC_0655 (2)

Once I cleaned out the inside I discovered the bottle still didn’t fit. No worries, just keep trimming inside the rim.



You want the bottle to fit snug. Once it fits you can fill it with water and start placing your flowers.




The shades of dark purple in the smoke bush seemed like a nice Halloweeny compliment to the flowers.


Add the white tulips and more berries

And don’t worry if you can see the rim of the plastic bottle peeking out when you’re done. You simply stick some moss into the rim and let it drape over. 


I happened to have this bright green color but I could have made it a tad more spooky with the gray Spanish moss. 


If this was for a Halloween table I’d probably put a trail of tiny spiders on the pumpkin…


See how simple this bouquet was?

I sure hope you’re enjoying the 29th Day of October!







Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Day 28: The big announcement...drum roll please….



quote by Nelson Mandela


In the end there were emails from as far away as Holland and Great Britain that were sent to Bishop Soto in Sacramento, California.

Women who had read THIS POST and felt the same outrage that I did, decided to voice their opinions and do you know what?

We made a difference.

That’s right.

I received a gracious email from Jim, the director of this amazing program that’s been feeding the hungry for thirty years, and I’ve been informed that Father Martin has had a change of heart, and has given his permission to re-open the program beginning today.

That’s right, starting today no more hungry people in need of a hot meal will be turned away, it’s official. The crisis is over.


And Jim—the kind-hearted and wise Director who met with Father and coordinated the  compromises couldn’t have been more grateful for the feedback that arose from the blog post, calling us “90% responsible” for this happy ending.

This is the part that’s really something.


It’s the fact that such a stunning number of readers took action on behalf of people that live thousands of miles away from them; people they’ll never even meet, and in an age when we’re all running around juggling so much, they still took the time to:

offer prayers,

share my post on their own FB pages,

tweet my post,

offer me strategies for dealing with an obstinate priest

and sent outraged emails to the Bishop

heck, one of my readers (thank you Barbara) even called the Bishop’s office and had a very assertive conversation with his secretary when he was unavailable.

“I hope the Bishop acts quickly because Tuesday’s just 30 hours away and there’s people to be fed.” she’d told her.

And while I don’t know if there were other phone calls, I do know that the Bishop got a barrage of feedback. And that the priest himself mentioned in a conversation, a blog post out there that was “hurtful” to him (I’m sorry Father but sometimes the truth hurts).

And as the supportive feedback kept coming in, I felt a surge of Mama’s pride rush through my veins and the kind of smile on my face that says, “Yes! We’re being heard.”

Which is the first step toward change.

martin lutherkingjr

The other night my parents—who will be wearing their blue aprons and welcoming guests back to the gym tonight --asked me to thank everyone on their behalf.

My cute Dad, who was so excited by the blog comments my Mom was reading to him, told me,

“Boy Leslie, you’ve got some nice ladies who read your blog. Now don’t forget. I want you to be sure to thank everyone for your Mom and me. OK?”

Ok Dad.



But he didn’t have to remind me because I’ve felt this way for a long time.

I’m just so grateful –and humbled—for the kind of readers who come to my blog.

Readers like YOU.

Because it turns out there’s whole a lot of strong women out there who aren’t afraid to stand up to bullies and say what they think, especially when it comes to protecting the vulnerable and weaker ones among us.

And I’m so happy that enough of us decided to use our collective power to change a bad decision.



And of course…

it always helps to have the good Lord on your side.


Happy 28th of October!







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